Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mold Killing 101

I cleaned my windows last night. That wouldn't sound so ominous if it was August, but anyone who knows apartment life (or even some houses) knows that cleaning windows in December can only mean they were really, really nasty. And oh! they were! The condensation on my double-pane windows was several inches tall and had begun growing. Any water that had pooled in the windowsills was fuzzy. My wooden dowel window stoppers were disgusting. Seriously, I felt like one of those people on a reality TV show, "how gross is your house?!" The rational side of me was arguing, "yeah, but it's only a tiny bit of mold so pull on your big girl panties and deal with it." Armed with a quadrupled towel over my mouth and nose, latex gloves, and some 1/10 bleach/water, I got down to business. All of the windows got wiped with dry paper towels, then with bleach-water paper towels. The sills got wiped down the best I could do, and then I let bleach-water sit in the sills for a few minutes. The mold and mildew came right out, but I'm worried about it hiding in the places I can't see. Yuck!

If anyone has a good, cost-effective solution to stopping mold and mildew in double-pane apartment windows, I'm listening. We always run our fans when we take showers or use the laundry. I vent the stove if something is steaming excessively. Short of not breathing, I don't know what else to do to stop the black mold. Does rubbing alcohol work better than bleach? I've read that bleach is still the best mold/mildew killer... help!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day in December!

Happy Valentine's Day... two months early. The Man and I were shopping on Christmas Eve day when we realized that not only was all of the Christmas crap on sale, but that most of it had already been replaced by pink hearts and red candy molds. I sort of understand crafting stores getting in on the festivities early--crafters like to do things in advance--but even the Dollar Store was in transition. I have a hard enough time seeing Christmas crap in stores before Halloween, but now Valentine's Day is getting in on the advance action? Ugh. I vote that holiday decorations cannot be sold more than two weeks in advance, much like fireworks. There would be a season, a short window of opportunity, a legal date designation for Christmas songs on the radio, pink hearts in the windows, and the Easter bunny. The marketing of all that junk is getting ridiculous. How many months in advance do I really need to get a scary skeleton door hanging... June? March!?

Silly me, a shopping trip for Christmas decorations the day before Christmas and the stores are working on a different holiday already. Sheesh.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Migraine Hell

I had a whopper of a migraine yesterday, complete with puking and feeling like the end was near. Not to be overly dramatic, but I felt like shit. On the upside, it's the first migraine in over six weeks, so either I'm learning what the triggers are or I'm less stressed or something. Even the last one wasn't so bad. I've only had two or three really bad ones in the last year that included puking. Yesterday was awful.

I got up late yesterday since I felt crappy, almost noon. The Man and I were supposed to go to a wedding reception in Salem, but at 2pm on the way north I made him drop me at my parents' house. I could hardly sit up. He deposited me on the guest bed (thanks for not tossing that yet!) where I stayed until he returned two hours later, a couple pretty roses in tow (aww!). He drove us home just fast enough for me to toss my cookies in my own toilet. Ugh.

I slept about sixteen hours solid, including this morning. I called in sick, justifiably so I think. By noon I was feeling lots better. Since then, I've baked a loaf of bread, threw together a loaf of banana bread, cleaned a chicken for dinner tonight, and washed and folded three loads of laundry. The Man went to Albany where he picked up a new microwave using some of our wedding money. Our old one was very small and took three minutes to boil water. The new one is HUGE! and fast! and HUGE! And it's a Sharp Carousel, so I know I can rely on it for the next ten or fifteen years.

The one good thing about migraines is that once I feel better, I get so much done. The whole feeling great part doesn't exactly make up for the feeling like death part though, so I vote no more migraines. Less caffeine seems to be helping, and I think overdoing it Friday with the caffeine wasn't smart. Lesson learned (again, sigh).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Justification for our Small Wedding

I recently found this hilarious commentary from a priest about weddings. It summarizes all of the fears I had of outdoor weddings and our wedding in general. The Man and I made a huge point to not spend an extraordinary amount of money on our big day, plus we attended all but one of the church's pre-Cana events (we skipped out on the optional NFP class because, seriously, prayer is not an effective form of birth control). You can ask any of our family members about how much listening we do and how much communication we try to do, how extensive our engagement process was... I am not lying one bit when I say we work EVERY day on our marriage. Not just when we fight, not just when we think about it, but EVERY day. Of course we bicker and argue, but we try to learn why in each situation and learn from it. And I'm not just saying that to make us sound good: we really do. We know how hard it is to be married, to stay married, so we want to work at it.

Anyway, this funny article really hammers the idea home. Don't invest more in your wedding than you do in your marriage!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why Catholics and Protestants Don't Get Along

(Read the full article here. It's a short story, so go ahead and read it!)

I recently read this article describing the fundamental differences in Catholic and Protestant perspectives. It was especially interesting for me to read since I've held both perspectives at different points in my life.

Growing up, I held fast to the Protestant notion that I didn't need anyone to show me God. I didn't need a priest or minister, a church or even a gathering of people: as an individual, I had a direct link to God. I could read the Bible all by myself and glean wisdom from the Word whenever I wanted. If I did go to church, it wasn't for community or to participate in the liturgy, it was solely for my own good. I was an island.

Having "crossed the Tiber," I see things from the Catholic perspective. I go to Mass for the community, to participate in something infinitely larger than myself, to hear the Gospel (the same Gospel preached around the world on that day!), to see Christ, to be Catholic. So much of what we do each Sunday at Mass involves the senses: incense, bread and wine, kneeling and standing, bells, holy water, and praying aloud in unison. We experience God through what we know.

It's such an odd place to be now, going from roots where everything I touch is worldly, a simple inanimate object created by human hands for human use, to this changed version of me seeing God in my fellow man, realizing that all I have is a gift from God. Realizing that my rosary is not just a string of beads but a tool to help me grow closer to God... it was a huge step. Perhaps it was my own "Great Awakening" as I learned and grew from a Protestant into a Catholic.

The article was one of the most enlightening articles I've read about the Protestant/Catholic divide. As the author finishes his article, I agree with the need for more discussion and unity. Perhaps once we learn to recognize the differences in how we think, we'll be able to come together on the things we know to be true.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Christmas has come and gone, and I am thrilled! No more rushing around spending money, no more wrapping and ribboning, no more baking with oil/butter/eggs as the main ingredient. It's not that I don't like the season of giving/receiving gifts or delicious food--I really like all of those things! Having attended different celebrations this year, I am a little overwhelmed. Did everyone like the gift I gave them? Did all of the food I made turn out okay? Did my wrapping jobs look neat? I'm simply thankful that it's over this year. I'm not knocking the holidays or trying to ruin for anyone else, nor am I being selfish: I'm turkey-ed out.

On a side note, I heard from more than one person this holiday that they were so impressed we hand-wrote and sent our wedding gift thank-yous within two weeks of our wedding. It made our hard work so much more worth it! Of course we would have done them on any time schedule, but Mom and Dad drilled it into me to get them out promptly. We did. It feels great to hear people--especially family--tell us that it still means something.

I'm also glad that I can now move on from the annual bickering about which holiday salutation is more politically correct. I say "Merry Christmas." I say "Happy Holidays." I say whatever comes first, so don't be offended. As a Christian, why on earth would I put up a fuss about "Happy Holidays"? It's not like someone is saying they hate me or wish a plague on my family... the whole bickering thing really needs to stop. I'm glad I have eleven months before I have to deal with it again.

Mom gave us our big gift of the holiday season: a bread machine. We will have fresh bread in approximately an hour, and the apartment smells delicious. Oh, and we gave each other a bunch of dollar bin art projects: too much fun! I'm a happy kid.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snippets from Last Night

*Note: Please take the three following snippets of last night with a light heart. I was not offended or bothered by any of the following moments. They were funny to me. :)

~*~*~*~*~*~

The Man and I were driving to the grocery store right after I got off work when this happened:
The Man: I have a question.
Me: Okay...
The Man: Why are most goats named Betty?
Me: What?
The Man: All the goats I know are named Betty.
Me: What goats?!

He's not exactly country-fried, so the idea of my dear husband seeing a goat--let alone being on a first-name basis with one--scared me. By the way, that's the entire conversation. There was never some sort of resolution where he explained to me how he knows Betty1 or Betty2. There was never a follow-up question. The whole thing fizzled into me being completely stupefied by the idea of goats named Betty.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Later, we were laying on the couch talking about whether I suffer from PMS or if it's him that suffers when I am 'suffering' too. I was curled up in my fleece blankey with my head on his lap. He looked down at me and giggled, "You look like a bug in it's cocoon right before it hatches." (An improvement on him telling me I look like a sea monster, I think not.) I laughed at him and opened my mouth with, "Yeah? Well what am I going to turn into?" He didn't even miss a beat. "A bitch!" referring to my PMS-y-ness. Yeah. Next time stick to sea monster, bucko.

~*~*~*~*~*~

We reached a new low last night in the kitchen. The Man begged me to buy him cookie dough at the store so he could eat it raw with his friend when they get together to play video games. Cookie dough is expensive, so I told him it'd be cheaper to make it at home. As much as I love Toll House cookie dough, homemade stuff is always better. We pulled out the stand mixer and whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch. We made cookie dough for the sole intent of not baking it. I wasted baking soda, a leavening ingredient, on the dough. Not that baking soda is expensive, but I have to wonder if it really made a difference in raw dough. Oh, and yes, we did put both eggs in. We are eating raw dough with raw eggs. And neither of us are sick.

Yeah, I made cookie dough for the purpose of not baking it, but to give to other people to eat raw. That's a whole new hilarious low in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Determined to be Itch-Free

Having been off the Prednisone for just over a week, I've noticed I'm starting to itch again. We discontinued the use of Snuggle fabric softener and switched to Bounce dryer sheets that have no scent. We alternate loads with dryer sheets and dryer balls (the sheets keep static away as the dryer balls are pretty much completely useless for static). Apparently I wasn't allergic to the Snuggle bear, which I didn't think was the problem in the first place since I've used Snuggle my entire life.

What's next? Soaps. I'm almost out of body wash and face wash, so I'm going to the store tonight to get a few products rated much safer on the Cosmetic Database (formerly Skin Deep). I don't use fingernail polish, one of the most toxic substances used, so at least I know it's not that. Check! My deodorant, foot scrub, clay mask, and make-up are all well-rated products that shouldn't be reacting to my skin (partly because I use them so rarely (except deodorant, that's almost every day)). Bioré Pore Strips are also fine to use, so yay for those. I'm pretty sure it's not a food allergy. I rarely use lotion, don't use perfume, only wear cotton, wash myself and my clothes regularly (but not too much), and can't think of anything I've done that would be new to cause an allergy.

I did learn that Chap Stick is one of the worse lip balms on the market. Even the plain normal kind isn't very safe. So sad! I'll be switching to Aquaphor as soon as I can find it in the pocket-size tubes ('cuz really, Jaggy doesn't carry a purse: it's pockets or bust). Aquaphor, by the way, is incredibly safe--recommended for babies--and is just about the only thing I can use on my hands for dry, cracked skin. It works miracles. If only I actually used it more than once a month, then maybe I wouldn't have dry hands.

So I'm starting over. New shampoo, new body wash, new face wash, new everything. We'll see how it all goes...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bubble Lights

The Man informed me that his family doesn't have many holiday traditions, but he just doesn't feel like it's Christmas until the tree has bubble lights. The Man's Mom gifted us a string of bubble lights for our first Christmas (thank you again!), and I took a few moments last weekend to get them on the tree. I knew of this type of light but never really saw them until I met The Man. Our tree looks fantastic now, and I know we're both more into the holiday.

I set a slow exposure for this picture, probably five seconds. The bubbles sort of flow together in the light, but I assure you, they bubble away. Our little fake tree doesn't look so bad in this picture either. We lucked out and picked one that sort of looks real. No watering, no dropped needles, no allergies! Did I mention how much I love having a fake tree?

Oh, and the bubble lights. Love those too!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ready for the Holidays

We had a busy weekend here at Chez Jaggy. I took last Friday off from work so that we could get even more accomplished. We finished our Christmas shopping on Friday morning before heading up to Salem to meet The Man's Mom. I transferred off my parents' cell phone plan onto a plan with The Man and his mom, plus I picked out a new phone. Not sure if I like the Motorola Karma yet, but it's been interesting to learn the quirks. The alarm feature doesn't work very well, but the sound quality for calls and music is very good. I have more to learn. We helped The Man's Mom (TMM?) decorate their house for Christmas and pick out a tree on a nearby tree lot. She made us a delicious stir-fry for dinner. We got home late that evening.

Saturday was busy as well. I wrapped all of the presents and put them under our tree. I put the new bubble lights on our little Christmas tree, and those really made the tree fun and exciting. We cleaned a bit, and I threw in two loads of laundry. The afternoon found me painting and decorating a few more gifts. In the evening, we went grocery shopping before heading into Albany where we went to Grandma's. I made the three of us tacos for dinner. Grandma gave us her grocery list, and we did her shopping. We visited a while and ate some yummy homemade cinnamon bread (thanks, Grandma!). Another late night out.

Sunday arrived later than I anticipated, but sleeping in felt soooo good. We had leftover cinnamon bread for breakfast (in bed). We snuggled and watched Mythbusters for a while before finally getting motivated to do two more loads of laundry, clean the apartment, and work on the second-to-last crafty gift. I have one project left to do! ...and dinner to make, cards to get, and Mass this evening.

After all that, I still don't feel productive. Something must be wrong with me!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our First Christmas Tree

We put up a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day evening, a four-foot pre-lit fake tree. We thought about getting a real tree, but by the time we purchased lights, water, a tree stand, and the tree itself, there's no way we could have had a tree for the $25 we spent. The tree skirt and our stockings were made by my aunt, and most of the ornaments on our tree were from another aunt. Our tree has no particular theme, just ornaments and white lights. The one ornament shown here looks like a raindrop, a very sparkley, ribbon-covered drop. It's one of my favorite ornaments.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dancing Down the Aisles: an Argument for Reverence

I wouldn't usually comment on something that doesn't impact me, but after being asked at least two dozen times by various people if The Man and I would dance down the aisle at our wedding, I feel as though I have to comment. We may both be people who can dance, but we did not approve of the action during our wedding ceremony. I need to be clear: I'm not attacking the couple or suggesting that they are bad people. They made a decision to dance down the aisle at their wedding, and that's fine. My comments are directed toward weddings in general in light of the viral video and how often people have insisted it would be a good idea for us to do as well.

My first problem in commenting about my dissatisfaction with weddings being so joyous that there is dancing in the aisle is that I immediately look like the world's biggest party pooper. I haven't found a way to say, "I disagree with that" without also sounding as if I'm saying, "I disagree with that and think you should too."

One problem I found with the viral video is the size of the wedding party. Since when did getting married mean including every person you've ever known as a bridesmaid or groomsman? Are people afraid of offending someone by not including them in the wedding party that they ask everyone? It feels like it becomes a popularity contest, almost like someone saying, "look at how many friends I have!" Does the seventh bridesmaid really feel like a part of the action when her duties include paying for her dress, shoes, nails and hair, and maybe getting to spend a nanosecond with the bride? What exactly is the purpose of groomsman number eight, and what role does he fulfill on the wedding day? It's one thing if a couple comes from large families and wants to include siblings, but I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. Having the entire fraternity standing next to the groom is overkill and quite tacky to me.

I'll be the first to say that tradition for tradition's sake is a bad idea, but I'm still not sure wedding traditions should be upended by dancing in the aisles. Weddings can be personalized by location, colors, costumes, even size and words... is walking down the aisle too traditional or simple, too boring maybe? Is there an ecclesiastical reason for the slow wedding progression? Perhaps it gives the bride and groom a chance to reflect and grow one more moment as they move toward a life together.

Also, people don't seem to take weddings seriously anymore. I'm not talking about the life-long commitment or realizing the trials of marriage, but the wedding itself. Maybe people don't take saying the vows seriously. Maybe they aren't recognizing what a wedding is: the sacrament between a man and woman as they start their vocational calling together. Dancing down the aisle seems like a stunt wrought with self-gratification, a look-at-me overture that subtracts reverence and respect for the institution Christ Himself created. A wedding is a sacrament, not a production number with a song-and-dance routine. It's not a contest to see how big, how expensive, how cheap, how glamorous, how on-top-of-a-mountain-with-elephants-and-balloons a wedding can be. Even if a church doesn't recognize marriage as a true sacrament (most Protestants don't actually), they usually still recognize the sanctity of marriage.

I'm sure you're ready to shout at me, "Lighten up! It was their wedding, not yours." It frustrates me to no end, though, that people keep suggesting to us that we needed to do that at our wedding. Even if I didn't have an opinion when I first saw the video, I've had to form an opinion. I've had to reason why we wouldn't want to dance down the aisles. For us, it boiled down to reverence. We decided we didn't want a boisterous display and instead chose ceremony style that reflected our commitment to Christ and the Church. Many people later commented to both of us how beautiful our ceremony went, and several relayed how incredible our first dance was to watch.

There's nothing wrong with being joyous. There's nothing wrong with dancing. A problem forms when the need for self-gratification and attention overstep respect. The problem continues when a wedding is more about the show than the sacrament. I am not impressed by people dancing down aisles at a wedding, and to all those who have asked if we considered doing it at our wedding, I am incredibly thankful we didn't do so.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breakfast Burritos: Disgusting!

We've tried a half-dozen ways to make them, but we still haven't found a recipe we like. Breakfast burritos are apparently outside the realm of "tasty" for us. Seeing and hearing how many of our friends love them, we figured we'd give them one more try. Catastrophic fail.

Either I'm missing the ingredients or the point entirely. We used our favorite flour tortillas, a mexican cheese blend, fresh eggs, some sausage, and hash browns that were not only fresh but well-seasoned. What else goes in breakfast burritos? Some people like black beans, and some people put in avocado. Neither of us eat those, so we left them out. Tomatoes, onions, and peppers are not high on our list either.

Maybe it's a texture thing. I love just about all breakfast food, but scrambled eggs rolled up in a tortilla make me gag. I tried to get a good crisp on the hash browns in order to add some texture, and while it helped, it really didn't work for me. We put in less cheese to make the whole thing less greasy and gooey. My sausage was about the only redeeming quality to the mess. Even with the textured hashbrowns, less cheese, and thoroughly cooked eggs, the burritos were a mushy, bland, disgusting meal. Honestly, it was one of the worst foods I've tried in a long time. I will also mention how many pans it took to make the hashbrowns, scramble the eggs, fry the sausage, and warm the tortillas... (you do the math). Ugh!

For the same amount of time and effort, I could have made pancakes and/or waffles, sausage, eggs, and hashbrowns, and my overall cost would have been less than or equal to the breakfast burritos. Plus I would have enjoyed the pancakes a lot more! I don't know what we're doing wrong with the burritos, but suffice it to say we won't be trying them again anytime soon. Yuck!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Not-So-Big Christmas Extravaganza

We've been busy the last three days! Friday night included sidewalk skating as Corvallis was a frozen mess. We put on some slick-soled shoes and slid everywhere for the fun of it. We also played some games with friends, ate delicious tacos, and conversed until our eyelids grew heavy. It was a fun (cold!) night.

Saturday dawned too early for me as I made six dozen muffins for my family's Christmas gathering. Due to weather, we had to push back the festivities a couple hours, but the roads were fine by noon. I gave Dad a haircut before the party, and Mom let me lick the turkey wings clean (they're too much of a hassle to bother with most of the time). We arrived to Grandma's around 2pm followed by aunts and uncles and one solitary cousin of the near-dozen on that side. From then until 9pm, we ate, talked, rested, ate, rested, ate, talked, ate... so much good food! I had almost forgotten how yummy baked rice is, but Grandma totally saved the day for me. There was some drinking, some singing, some cell-phone-caroling. Mostly eating. Yum!

Sunday included a drive up to Clackamas for a friend's wedding (Congratulations Ian!). The Man and I used a BOGO coupon to stuff ourselves (again) at Sweet Tomatoes. We reconnected with friends at the wedding, did a bit of dancing, and we even had a few long hours in the car to resolve a several-day discussion we'd been having. We weren't disagreeing, just discussing. That's an important distinction to make. :)

I took today, Monday, off. I needed it. We slept until 10am. I made more muffins for the Christmas party at work tomorrow. We went to a couple appointments and meetings before deciding to take the evening off and relax. I miss relaxing.

I am not, however, hungry.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Muffins Muffins Everywhere

It's going to be a crazy twenty-four hours for me between this evening and tomorrow. We're headed to our friends' apartment this evening for a couples game night and dinner. After I get home, it's on to a shower and a tiny bit of relaxing before getting up at the crack of dawn to make six dozen mini-muffins for my family Christmas gathering tomorrow. Lemon poppyseed and blueberry types, fresh from the oven at 8am. I'd strive for 7am, but let's be realistic. Sunday morning (or Saturday evening) Mass if we can make it, and then to Portland Sunday night if the weather doesn't keep us in. We have a wedding to go to that evening, and hopefully we'll make it home without trouble. We have stashed family along I-5 between Portland and Corvallis, so we're always less than ten minutes from a couch to crash on if the roads ice over. ;)

AND THEN! I am taking Monday off. Because, seriously, a weekend without rest is worthless. I will be back as soon as the hubbub has died down, so if it's a few days, don't worry. I'm makin' muffins!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Light'er Up

'Tis the season for Christmas lights. Every other house seems to be participating so far this year, every other house decked out in lights, blow-up figures, and icicles from every horizontal surface. I like a good lighting scene as much as the next person, but some people have taken holiday decorating a bit too far if you ask me.

I was driving home the other night when I spotted a Christmas lighting abomination: seven large blow-up figures, five or six wire-light-mechanical deer things, an entire tree smothered in net lights, rows of lights outlining each eve and window, and Santa in an blow-up airplane dive-bombing a nativity scene. Not quite a partridge in a pear tree, but loud enough I say. I'm not trying to exert control or shame these people as much as offer a question: at what point can we make fun of people for their overzealous holiday displays? Seems to me the blow-up snowmen don't exactly invoke the Reason for the Season, let alone a hint of holiday cheer.

It's the yards lit up like daylight that bother me. It's the huge displays of consumerism and power-sucking gaudiness. It's trying to keep up with the Jones. Ugh.

What happened to made-in-the-woodshop oversized holiday cards displayed on the front lawn? What happened to creativity and unique ideas? Are we now so consumer-driven that we can't be original in how we say "Happy Holidays"? Sure, be the first to get the LED lights, save some energy, and try to look cool, but give it a year. One year. Next year everything will be LEDs. Brighter, louder, bigger, more obnoxious. Of course, some would argue "better" because they draw less energy, but after stringing forty sets together instead of the old three-or-less rule, I argue it won't make much difference energy-wise.

I miss lighting displays with personality. I miss the neat single row Dad set out every year. None of this bright-as-daylight crap or blow-up crap. It's all crap now. I'm not impressed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Prednisone Plus/Minus

I've made it through three days loaded on Prednisone. The itching arms and back have calmed down a lot, and my few little bump sores are almost cleared up. I've been using Eucerin to help keep the skin hydrated in this cold weather, and the lotion really seems to be helping the healing process. Though the itching may be gone, in these last three days I've learned two very important lessons:

1) Prednisone should come with a warning label. It tastes horrible. Not like, "oh, I'll sip some water, drop the pill on my tongue, close my mouth, swallow, and then be okay." More like, "water, tip head back, drop pill as far down throat as possible, swallow like mad, chug more water." If I'm really lucky I'll get to the second pill before I gag. One trick I've learned is apple juice. It has a sweetness that kills the bitter Prednisone flavor. Also, dusting of the pill dust before taking it helps. Speed is crucial, as is getting the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. Lots of juice for the chaser and the aftertaste disappears. Ugh!

2) Prednisone causes mood swings. The pharmacist warned me, and one of my friends concurred. I didn't think it would happen, but holy cow I've been cranky the last few hours. It's not PMS or a bad day, just little tiny things that totally bothered me even though they shouldn't have. I was sitting there almost half-outside my own body looking in going, "lady, you're nuts!"

Or maybe that was The Man telling me I'm nuts... it happens. ;)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Another allergy? Say it isn't so!

I've been away from the computer all weekend, not because I was productive, but because I itched. Itched! I was moderately productive, though, so it wasn't a completely wasted weekend.

I started itching on the back of my hands about ten days ago. Little tiny bumps appeared, bumps like tiny raised pimples with nothing in them. The itch progressed up my arms where I had maybe ten or fifteen tiny bumps total. I noticed about four days ago that my shoulders started itching, and then the sensation spread to my upper back and neck. Tiny, tiny bumps; lots and lots of itching. I did my best to not scratch, but by yesterday afternoon I was frustrated enough to go see a doctor.

At first, we thought the bumps looked like bites. We ruled out spiders since I had fifteen or so in random spots. We knew they weren't mosquito bites. I went on a bed bug hunt throughout the bedroom and apartment and turned up nothing, not a single carcass or blood stain, not a hint of them anywhere. We laid down two long tape strips near the bed to see if we could trap any bugs, bed bug or otherwise, and nothing stuck. I changed all of the sheets, washed the mattress protector in hot water to kill any dust mites, and pulled the bed away from the wall to check for any other insects. Nothing. (Yay!)

The doctor checked me for scabies, bed bugs, insect bites, every usual suspect that I'd already gone through, and we agreed the bumps didn't look like insect bites. He suspects they are part of an allergic reaction.

But here's the really weird part: knowing that I tend to have somewhat sensitive skin, I find a product that works and stick to it. I've always used ALL laundry detergent, the kind with no perfumes or dyes. I've always used Snuggle dryer sheets without a problem. I use Suave body wash, the pink "flavor." I don't wear perfume, and my deodorant is BAN solid, which is made for more sensitive skin. I rarely use hair conditioner, lotion (only Eucerin if so), or wear jewelry. I thought maybe a necklace was causing the itching, but I removed it immediately when the itching started as I know I'm sensitive to nickel. I'm not allergic to any food that I know of, and I haven't recently taken any medication I am allergic to. I'm at a complete loss as to what could be causing the itching. It's not exactly grass pollen season outside right now.

We bought some dye/scent-free dryer sheets this weekend in the hopes that I'm only allergic to Snuggle dryer sheets. The doctor gave me Prednisone to combat the itching, but after nine days I think I'll be back to square one. At least for now I'm not itching.

Any thoughts?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Heat Initiated

It was 62º in our apartment when I got up for work this morning. The outside temp was around 23º. To say that the apartment feels colder each day has been an understatement. Because we have such warm clothes and blankets, we've been able to make it to December without having to turn on the heat this year. We're incredibly thankful to be in such a position, no doubt, but this morning I gave in. I popped on the wall heaters, our only source of heat through the winter (and I hate them).

I've tried to go around the apartment and find heat leaks. One of the biggest drafts I've felt was from the vent over the stove. Cold air poured down the vent so hard that the little fan inside was spinning the wrong direction. I didn't know how to stop it or cover it, so I took the little vent cover wire basket thing and lined it with tinfoil (non-flammable, easy to remove). Hopefully that will keep some of the draft away. I also put draft blockers at the bottom of our exit doors. The windows are double-paned with mini blinds and two layers of curtains each. We try to use the oven to bake dinner most nights which doubles as a food cooker and apartment warmer. I'm not sure what else to do to draft-proof an apartment and heat it economically. Any suggestions from tried-and-true experience?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Life Sans Computer

Every night has been busy recently. We have had plans, cooked exciting meals, or watched movies at home together. The Man has another interview lined up, so we're hopeful he'll have a job soon (not telling where, ask him if you want to know). We've cleaned, decorated, baked, and read quite a bit lately. We're also enjoying all the board and card games people got us for our wedding (love Sequence!). That's about it for now... just enjoying life away from the computer.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Zeus Dammit

Have you ever heard someone that you know is not a Christian exclaim, "oh my God!"? I am not typically offended to hear the phrase, but I have always been taught to not take the Lord's name in vain. I wonder, how can someone who isn't Christian say such words? Do they say it without understanding what it means to Christians? Do they say it because they hear it spoken so often? Do they say it to be cruel?

I don't understand why non-Christians would invoke the name of a god in which they have no belief. I don't go around saying "Zeus dammit!" or "oh my Allah!" or "Thor darnit!"

Maybe I'll start...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Artisan Cookies

After test-driving the new KitchenAid Artisan, I walked away with some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (at The Man's request). He got to lick the beaters, too, so he was quite pleased. We have very little fear of raw egg in this family.

The mixer did a fantastic job until I started adding flour and oatmeal. I had to switch from the beater to the dough hook, and even then it seemed to bog down. I had to scrape the sides of the bowl often, too, which slowed down the process. KitchenAid has started making new beaters that do scrape the bowl with squeegee-like action which would greatly improve the whole process. I think the mixer does a great job at mixing, but I am very glad I stopped the blending before the motor gave out. I didn't even double the recipe, just a standard 24-cookie batch. I figured with something like 3000-horsepower or whatever wattage that thing is, it should be able to handle some wimpy dough. Alas, the Quaker Oats man proved intimidating. I'll have to see if the same thing happens next time.

I did get a great boost in speed and baking fun by using a measuring scoop to portion the cookies and ratchet them out onto my new silpats. The cookies baked much more evenly and didn't stick at all. Clean-up was super easy too. I only have to hand-wash the silpats and mixer attachments: everything else went into the dishwasher.

All-in-all, it was a good cookie baking experience, but I see that I have a learning curve with the new appliance. Does anyone have any tips for using the mixer to make cookies?

Editor's note: The Man says the cookies are awesome.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Natural Carpet Cleaning Recipe

It has been a busy four days. We ate great food, slept in every day, did some heavy shopping (a stand mixer and a new TV, happy wedding to us!), and cleaned the apartment top to bottom. I did four loads of laundry, baked cookies, vacuumed, mopped, removed a few small carpet stains, scrubbed the tub, bought a few groceries, and watched four movies.

The carpet cleaning was a bit tough at first. I looked into Woolite's Rug Stick thingy, and I checked out reviews of different carpet cleaners on Amazon. I researched pros and cons of different chemicals, considered wet versus dry cleaning, and finally gave up. The carpets could stay dirty for all I cared. But I gave it another go later and typed in "natural carpet cleaner" into Google. One of the first few options was pure genius! Here's the super-easy, extra-cheap, very effective solution I used:

-a good dollop of Dawn--the original blue stuff works just fine
-a half-cup or so of water, maybe eight or ten times as much water as Dawn
-pour into a blender (I used my little off-brand Magic Bullet with the whipping blade)
-blend until ultra-foamy
-using a small nylon bristle brush (like a toothbrush, duh), dab a bit of the soapy solution into the stain working toward the center using small strokes; don't vigorously brush the carpet or you'll destroy the fibers and make a weird spot in the carpet that looks worse than the original stain
-blot the damp area with a dry towel until almost no moisture remains

I am not joking, I took out seven or eight spots in about five minutes with this stuff, and it didn't cost me but a few pennies and some elbow grease. I didn't use any chemicals I wouldn't use bare-handed, and I didn't have to deal with a lingering scent. Fantastic stuff! I tossed the rest of my solution down the drain as I only made a little bit, but the extra solution could be stored in the fridge for a long time. Just re-blend it next time a stain occurs. Also, because I only used dish soap and water, the dishes were a snap (what, you want me to put more soap in to wash it? ha!).

This probably wouldn't be feasible for a larger area and certainly wouldn't replace a carpet shampooing every six months or year (or five), but for the time and cost, it's darn good. I'm pleased.

Friday, November 27, 2009

In Which Insomnia Pays Off

I'm a good sleeper, usually sleeping from 11:00pm to 7:00am without waking a single time. Lately, though, I've had trouble sleeping on my shoulder. It hurts like the dickens, so I wake up, turn over, and try to sleep again. This morning, I awoke at 6:00-ish, and I layed there eyes wide open for several minutes trying to figure out why I couldn't sleep. I tried rolling over, I tried getting warmer, tried cooling off, and even tried doing math in my head (an old trick that usually zonks me out quickly). Sleep just wouldn't come. Frustrated, I realized that today is the long-anticipated and much-disliked Black Friday. I should mention now how much I dislike shopping.

Last night, Dad mentioned to me that Bi-Mart had a good sale going on some of their items. I mulled the idea for a while before realizing just how good a few of the sales were. But since everything this year seemed to be in such limited quantities, I put the notion of going shopping out of my mind. I'm not about to beat down an old lady for the new singing/dancing/pooping Elmo.

But laying in bed wide awake on the busiest shopping day of the year didn't sit well. I figured a trip to Bi-Mart in little ol' Corvallis wouldn't be as dangerous or time-consuming as a trip to, say, Woodburn (where all the crazy people go from what I have seen). Bi-Mart is only a mile or so from where we live, so I woke up The Man, informed him that I was going to Bi-Mart, and that I'd be home by 7:00am. I threw on some jeans and a sweatshirt, not even bothering with contacts.

Bi-Mart's little parking lot was almost barren. I wondered if the 5:55am opening didn't happen, but the bright lights inside the store spilled out into the morning darkness. I flashed my membership card and sauntered past the only two people in the entire store as I made my way toward the stand mixers. The regular price for a Kitchenaid Artisan mixer is $299 no matter where I go. The colors are always white, red, maybe black or navy, and sometimes a yellow or pukey green. We had one on our wedding registry, but nobody got it for us. Bi-Mart advertised $100-off, a huge sale. I snagged a pretty metallic silver one, not the darker "imperial gray" that we wanted, but one color I can learn to love. The box also had a $30-off rebate stuck to it.

I made my purchase, drove the short distance home, and rejoiced in my insomnia. I purchased a $300 stand mixer--the nice one that I wanted--for $169 after the sale and rebate. That's incredible! The nearest price I could find was $230 at Sears. Even Target and Wal-Mart's sales weren't that good.

I'm makin' cookies tonight!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Donny's Mirror Ball Trophy

Congratulations to Donny Osmond on his Dancing With The Stars win last night! I did not watch the show all season, nor do I much care who won. I have nothing for or against Mr. Osmond, but as I spoke before the season began, he was destined to win. Donny has more talent and experience than most A-list stars (let alone some of the hacks invited to attempt dancing every season). He's been learning and memorizing song and dance routines his entire life. He's a tap dancer. He drew good dances. He's an great entertainer, a man I must respect even if I am indifferent about him as a person.

Donny's dances were very similar the first few weeks. He got stuck with the Charleston, Jitterbug, Quickstep, and Jive in short order. While each dance is distinct, the quick movements and fast pace are quite similar to tap dance moves. The Foxtrot isn't terribly different, though it is more smooth. His hardest dances were the Argentine Tango, the Viennese, and the Paso Doble, although it's arguable that Dancing With The Stars cheats by allowing choreography instead of true dancing, therefore taking a great deal of the challenge out of these dances.

There were other good dancers this season, as there are every season. The problem is that they didn't stand a chance. Donny has a multi-generational following (plus the entire Mormon vote). He's the best true entertainer the show has ever seen. He's old enough (read: mature enough) to hold his own as a lead and give the dances credibility, yet he's agile enough to squash the younger athletes in a dance. Donny was going to win unless he got injured or dropped out, no contest.

Like I said, I have nothing against him. He can dance. While I think he'd probably make more money singing (duh), I'm glad he took the opportunity to challenge himself. Even though it was a landslide. A happy landslide, but still, no contest. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I am one with the cranberry juice - again

Yesterday afternoon, I realized I was starting to get a urinary tract infection. I've had them before, no big deal. I went to Urgent Care after work, peed in a cup, waited for the lab to confirm what I knew anyway, and then waited again for the doctor to give me the antibiotic prescription. After the incidents with sulfa-based antibiotics in September, I made sure to get non-sulfa drugs this time. The Man kindly went with me to the doctor and then to the pharmacy where we were able to get the prescription filled (even after 8pm!). By the time I could take the antibiotic and get the Phenazopyridine in me, I was in terrible pain. I was beginning to urinate blood and what looked like little red boogers of my bladder lining. Oh yeah, it was fun. By midnight, I couldn't stand up. I called a nurse care line provided by my health insurance. The nurse was as sympathetic as she could be, but after explaining that I'd already been to the doctor and that I was drinking enough fluids to have to pee every half-hour, she essentially told me to buck up and get over it. Oh, and take some Tylenol. Thanks. I took some Aleve as acetomenaphen usually makes me nauseated, crawled into bed next to my concerned husband, and prayed for the pain to end. The Man humored me by telling me a funny story, by holding me and trying to take my mind off the pain. I finally fell asleep around 1am.

I'm feeling a bit better today. The pain has slowly decreased throughout the day as the drugs start working. I am peeing umpteen shades of painless neon orange, though that's a welcome change to hurting. The most frustrating part of all of this has been a sort of inquisition. I mentioned to a few people that I had another bladder infection, and they got a bit accusatory. I felt ashamed, defensive, angry, and disappointed both in them and at myself.

Please understand that I'm not only fastidious about my body, but I'm knowledgable when it comes to bladder infections. I've had them before. I had them as a child, and I've had a few as an adult (three recently). I wear cotton panties. I wipe front to back. I shower daily and wash thoroughly--but not too thoroughly that I might cause a yeast infection. I urinate after having sex every time (I'm married, I can say that, sorry Mom). I drink five or six glasses of water every day in addition to any pop or juice, and while I can't say I drink cranberry juice every day, at least I know that's a smart choice so please don't remind me about it.

This UTI snuck up on me with only a few hours warning before I got to the doctor. It was incredibly painful, but I'm on the mend. I am frustrated that I keep getting these, and I hope people understand that sometimes it's not about how clean a person is or how diligent they are in avoiding UTIs, but that some women are prone to them. A little understanding goes a long way. Not sympathy, not even special words or anything... just understanding.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm over stormwatching on the coast

I was a blogger no-show this weekend because The Man and I were out of town. We joined his parents Friday afternoon at Gleneden Beach for a short getaway. The weekend included shopping, good food, some games, and lots of reading. We stayed in some friends' beach house that I estimate was built and forgotten in about 1970 (this will come into play later). It was cozy and slightly warm, a nice alternative to the hissing surf less than fifty yards away (twenty at high tide). The Man and I went a short distance on the beach once, though we didn't venture beyond some packed sand. We had a nice time overall and are thankful we had the time with his family.

EXCEPT for last night. I'd seen the weather report right before we left. The weather man was predicting a slight disturbance moving through late Saturday night. Maybe I was paying attention to the forecast for the valley, or maybe I got interrupted... whatever the case, I missed the forecast for gale-force winds, upside-down rain, and panic attacks.

About 10pm Saturday night, The Man and I decided to go to bed. We snuggled to keep warm in the drafty bedroom, and I think I fell asleep for a half-hour or so. About 11:30 or 12:00, I could hear some heavy rain pattering on the windows. I am a native Oregonian: rain on the window makes a soothing, wonderful, awesome noise. After listening to the "tap, tap, tap" of rain, I started hearing a louder popping noise. It always corresponded to the wind, "whrrrrrrr WHRRRRRR! pop! pop! pop! WRSHHHHH! pop-pop-pop-pop! POP!" The noise sounded like it was coming from the window at first, like a branch was hitting the glass panes, but once I sat up, I realized the noise was coming from overhead. I layed back down and tried to snuggle, to pull the blankets over my head, but the wind wouldn't let up. About 12:30, after a solid half-hour of creaking and popping noises echoing throughout the beach house, I awoke--yes, awoke--my sleeping husband to inform him that I was thoroughly dissatisfied with our sleeping arrangements. Musty lumpy bed is one thing, intermittent skylight another.

He held my hand as we peered out the windows to confirm that there wasn't an offending branch scratching the siding or windows. We couldn't really see outside at all with it being dark and trees moving every which way. I pulled him out into the front room to look out the huge plate glass windows. We moved our blankets out of the noisy bedroom to the couch where I attempted to even close my eyes. The wind screamed down the fireplace, howled through the stove vent, and set the roof to popping every second for at least two hours. The tide had gone out, and the surf didn't look much heavier than usual, but the wind pushed so hard on the glass windows that they bowed and domed, bowed and domed. Exhasperated, exhausted, suffering with a migraine, and terribly fed up with the whole situation, I reasoned that if I was going to die, I was going to die in bed. We moved all of our blankets back to the bedroom where my husband tried to calm me down over the roaring storm.

I've never been through a hurricane or tornado, though I've seen, heard, and even felt a couple good wind storms. A 60-mile-per-hour gust up the valley gets stopped by trees, buildings, hills, and all sorts of little things. A gust that big on the coast has nothing in its way. I checked NOAA, and KATU confirmed, the biggest gusts at Gleneden Beach last night were over 80-miles-per-hour.

We never did lose the roof. Between prayers, general pleading for my life, and my husband trying to get me to go to sleep, I was up until 2:30am. The storm gave one final kick around 4:00am, and I slept then until about 7:00am. It was a very, very long night.

I don't know how people who live on the coast can stand windstorms, but I am officially over stormwatching on the coast.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snuggly Warm

I despise the new fad, the "Snuggie," but I do appreciate being warm. The Man and I have finally outgrown or worn our childhood (and college) blankets. We got some great bedding for our wedding, but we didn't get any good blankets. I love flannel, and I was going to make a flannel blanket for him, but he wanted a special print, so I ended up making him a blanket out of fleece.

Fast-forward a few days. We were snuggling on the couch, maybe watching a movie or reading together, I forget why exactly. Whatever the case, we discovered that one fleece blanket was not going to be enough. Okay, I discovered it. He was toasty warm under his blanket.

One night this week I went to the store. I picked out some fleece for myself, matched another color for the back side, and bought it. I took it home, trimmed and stitched it, turned it, whipped the opening, and BAM! no more sharing.

Now I'm snuggly warm.

But I do NOT have a "Snuggie." (Well, I do, it's called a robe, and I can put it on backward and save myself the damn $15 those things cost.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mario Bros. Last Name

The Man and I came up with an interesting question at lunch today. What is the last name of the Mario Bros. from Nintendo's famous game? The last name isn't Mario. The game shouldn't be called Mario Bros. Mario is a first name. Mario's brother is Luigi. The game could have been called Luigi Bros. as easily. Is anyone making sense out of this? Mario's name isn't Mario Mario. Luigi isn't Luigi Mario. It's just Mario and Luigi with no last name.

They are not the Mario Bros. I don't think my sister would appreciate it if I referred to us as the Jaggy Sisters. That would just be silly. Yet the name stuck, Mario Bros. I'm going to call them the Luigi Bros. and give Luigi his ten nanoseconds of fame.

...just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crispy Eska-ho

My dear sister has coined a new word/phrase that I believe ought to be shared with everyone. I give her full credit for the term as I had no part in its creation.

Have you ever been walking in Corvallis (or another city, these people are everywhere) and spotted one of the rare orange people? I'm not talking like "I see orange OSU people," but literally orange-tan-colored skin. The awkward color is usually accompanied by platinum blond hair and sometimes streaks of black or pink for good measure. The "crispy" part of her term comes from the fact that these people spent waaaaay too much time under the fake-sun broiler.

BUT! Her term includes a subset of these crispy people. These special people choose to wear Ugg boots (or cheap knock-offs in most cases). Super fake-n-bakers that like you to believe they spent too much time in the sun... in Alaska. Not that sunburns can't happen in Alaska, but the whole orange-skin-bleached-hair thing kinda throws a loop in my image of the typical Alaskan.

Also, note that we have nothing against Eskimos. It's the Eska-ho look that we're trying to discontinue here. Especially the Crispy Eska-ho look. *shudder*

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yet One More

I've been sitting here trying to think of what to write for half an hour while watching The Man try to defeat the last bad guy in an insanely annoying video game. He died once already. It's been a long night.

The Man had a job interview last week for a position he really wanted in Portland. The call came today while I was home for lunch: no job offer. But the company really liked him and wants him to apply for another position they're opening. He lost out to an internal hire, so it's not like he didn't hold his own... it could be that the company already knew who they were going to hire. Little comfort anyway.

We had comfort food for dinner: homemade-from-scratch mac and cheese. Thinking a root beer float isn't far off.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dear Food Network

I'd like to make a few suggestions in your programming. While I adore Good Eats and Unwrapped, I'm not so fond of your general show line-up. The shows are okay, I suppose, but the food people dream up and put on TV, well, not all of us can really do that. Not all of us are EVOO connoisseurs, and some of us just can't afford the good stuff. Plain ol' canola oil is going to have to do the trick. Peanut oil? Are you kidding? Safflower-lavender-parsnip-and-cow-tongue oil? Seriously, if I can't cook it either with vegetable oil--the off-brand stuff--or no oil at all, I don't cook it.

Many of us don't exactly splurge on sea salt when we can get the Tub o' Salt with the umbrella girl on it for 1/10th the price. And let me tell ya, sea salt and table NaCl taste pretty much exactly the same. It's salt. And it's really not that good for you in large quantities, so stop using it in every freaking recipe.

Why do all of your shows feature half- or under-cooked meat? There are a few of us in the world that actually like our meat cooked. We like no pink. We like juicy, flavorful, amazing DONE food. We take the time to prepare food that isn't going to kill one of our family members because some butcher can't keep his knives clean. We get our meat above the high temperatures that kill bad stuff and make the food taste better. The only meat that should be pink when served is salmon thankyouverymuch.

Oh, and what is it with all the fish? I live less than an hour from the Pacific Ocean, but there's no way I can afford to cook fish more than once a month or even once every few months. Halibut? Are you really considering what some people earn? Maybe you should try highlighting fish sticks, the cheap yellow-box kind, covered in Tabasco, mushed up in some rice, and shoveled down with beer. Because I bet more than a few people live on fish sticks and rice.

Calm down with the garlic, chill out on the grilling, and for all that is holy, please knock off the food competitions. I don't care who makes the best banana chili, I just want recipes and ideas of things I can actually afford to make for my little family. Not meals that serve 18, not super-fancy table settings, not six-ingredients-or-less, and not something that has to be done in 30-minutes (can't stand that woman!). Normal, ordinary, make-it-on-the-weekends comfort food for two or four people that doesn't kill my budget. That I don't have to go to five stores to find all the ingredients. That isn't mexi-japanese.

Oh, and fire that Bobby Flay turkey. I don't like him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

First Annual Traditions

It cracks me up when I see something written as the "First Annual" anything. Something can't be annual until it happens at least twice. The first incarnation of a-hope-to-be-annual event is simply the first occurrence. It's a one-time thing. In the second year, something could be called annual, and by the third year, sure, but not in the first year.

I've been thinking about traditions lately and the traditions I've been forced to face. We broke a few traditions at our wedding. We didn't have a garter or bouquet toss, nor did we have a vocalist sing songs or a big, tall wedding cake. We aren't planning to save a piece of the wedding cake for our first anniversary. We didn't leave for the honeymoon the night of our wedding. I didn't get a wedding band to go with my engagement ring. The Man wore his wedding ring before we were married. We're not really big on following all of those traditions--they didn't mean anything to us.

And yet we're Catholic. Our faith is, almost by definition, traditional. We rely on centuries-old doctrine to define our values and beliefs. We look to ancient traditions to help us understand our modern faith, our modern world. The Man and I are surrounded by tradition that we love.

People have asked me what our traditions will be. What will we do to "traditionally" celebrate holidays or "traditionally" usher in life events. I ask, how can we decide ahead of time what we will be doing two or three years from now that will be traditional? Wouldn't that be a forced tradition? What if we do something one Christmas morning or for an anniversary that we don't want to do the next time around? How exactly do traditions get created? Should traditions be created for traditions sake?

The Man and I sat down and discussed the traditions we grew up with and considered whether or not to continue those traditions. We talked about doing them because of what they are or what they mean to us, and we decided that we each come from some unique and meaningful traditions. Christmas isn't Christmas to me without sugar cookies, and Christmas isn't the same to him without stocking stuffers (for a couple examples).

In the end, our decision was easy: we aren't going to force traditions. We aren't going to follow a recipe for making our holidays the same one year to the next. If we want cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving one year and pie the next, it doesn't matter to us. If we like having cinnamon rolls, we'll have cinnamon rolls. We're not going to make traditions so that we can say we have them: we'll have traditions because we love them.

Do you have traditions, and if so, how did they come about? What do you think of forcing traditions?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Seattle Underground

What you see here is a bit complicated. The left of the picture shows a boardwalk created for the underground tour. Between the wooden boardwalk and the brick wall is the original sidewalk to Seattle. The brick wall is part of a storefront to a meat market (or that's what they told us on the tour). The "ceiling" is the substructure to the current Seattle sidewalks. The current street would begin approximately over the boardwalk, maybe just to the left of that. For scale, the height of the "room" would be maybe twelve feet from concrete sidewalk to wooden rafters. The space widthwise between the brick wall and the wooden boardwalk would be maybe fifteen or twenty feet.

What fascinates me most about the underground is how different parts of the sidewalk and buildings have settled. Some places are very level and even, and other places are scary. Nothing smelled funny, though, so at least it seemed less eerie.

Photo taken on our honeymoon to Seattle on October 20, 2009, on what I estimate to be a 3-second exposure. The photo is a good estimate for actual lighting in the underground.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The New Holy Water

The Catholic Church has made some changes in light of flu season this year. We have been told to not hold hands during the Our Father. We aren't supposed to shake hands or exchange physical greetings during the Sign of Peace if we have had any flu or cold symptoms in the last twenty-four hours. Some parishes, especially large ones, have stopped offering the cup except for people with gluten allergies who aren't showing symptoms of being sick (St. Mary's still offers it, but I don't see many people partaking). Parishes have also been encouraged to change the Holy Water frequently, thoroughly cleaning the basin or font between each filling. I know that these changes may not coincide with Tradition, but I'm pleased that the Church is responding in some way and helping ensure the health and safety of it's visitors and members. St. Mary's even installed hand sanitizer dispensers near each entrance.

This weekend as I was walking into the church to find a pew, I noticed a man walk in behind me. He walked up to the hand sanitizer dispenser and received a dollop of goo. He smeared it all over his hands then made the Sign of the Cross. A few people started giving him a funny look. He must have noticed because the next thing I heard was, "What? It's the new Holy Water!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Girl 1: Laundry Shelf 0

I recently put up a shelf in my laundry closet. A single wire laundry shelf just like I imagine a few hundred million people have in their laundry closets. The shelf is not important in this story: it's the "putting up" part that matters.

I've been living in my apartment over two years, and each week when I've tried to do laundry, I have had to reach waaaay over and behind my laundry hampers to reach the soap or the dryer sheets. Though the stretching is probably good for me, the stretching became obnoxious. I can't keep the soap on top of the dryer as it just shakes right off. So, after seeing the simple shelf on sale for $7.89, I decided my stretching days were over.

When I got up the next morning, I sized up the project. Seven screws, seven wall hanger thingies, one shelf, and no way to get the wall hangers into the wall. Grr. The Man and I do not have power tools of any kind (not that we don't believe in them, we do, we just can't afford them yet). We did our many errands for the day before stopping at my parents' to borrow one of Dad's drills. He asked me, "Do you know how to tighten the drill bit into the drill? Do you know what size hole you need to make?" Yeah, sure, whatever Dad.

Sunday morning arrived, and I fixed myself on getting that shelf put up. I eyeballed the hole placement after drawing a level line. I put the drill bit into the drill. Power on! Power off. Uh... um... crap. See, I've watched my father use a drill probably a thousand times (honestly, no exaggerating). I understand how they work, and I know what they do. It's not like I was picking up a loaded firearm without any gun safety classes (I even took out my contacts so I could use my polycarbonate glasses as safety glasses while drilling). But watching Dad poke holes in walls is nothing like doing it myself. I understood, "finger on trigger, bit to wall, push." I guess I didn't understand how all that was supposed to go together.

The Man, from his vantage point on the couch behind me, giggled. He paused his video game to watch the disaster unfold. I turned around and pointed the drill at him and pleaded, "come help me?" He smiled, "nope, you're doing just fine killing the wall without me." I pouted. He begrudgingly walked the ten feet to show me how to poke better holes in the wall. It's not that I NEEDED his help, but I'm glad he was there to help. I finally grew some... confidence and drilled the other six holes as I'd marked.

I screwed in six of the seven screws (one screw arrived to me mangled, so I just left it out of the hanger thingy). The shelf popped right on, brackets attached, and I had meself a shelf! The cleaning rags have a new home, and I no longer have to bend over to get soap or dryer sheets or dryer balls. And I did it all by myself. Except that first hole. I had to make his hole bigger, so I vote his doesn't really count anyway. So there. ;)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Blog Year Retrospective #4

Four years. 1258 posts. Over 280,000 visitors. I can't believe I'm still blogging. Here I am, though, writing my fourth Blog Year Retrospective. Each year I sit down to review the last twelve months and wonder where I'll be in the next twelve months. If someone had told me a year ago what I'm about to write, I probably would have peed my pants.

A year ago I was dating The Man. I was relishing life in my own apartment. I was helping friends celebrate weddings and birthdays and new jobs, never considering that this year I'd be celebrating my own special moments. My life has gone from content to fantastic, from simple and easy to complex and busy. More than anything, I'm learning what it means to feel blessed. I'm not sure where to start, so this year I'll go in order of my Filed Under section (for the most part).

Unique things have happened to me. I made the family's sugar cookies at Christmas last year, a huge deal for me since Mom finally let me in on her recipes. My favorite TV show, ER, ended it's fifteen-season run. I was in third grade when the show premiered, so it's safe to say I grew up with the show every Thursday night. Life and The Unit, my other two favorite shows also went off the air last May. I don't watch as much TV now. Also, I started taking Singulair to help combat my seasonal allergies, and it greatly helped through the worst months.

We had some adventures this year! The Man joined me for some ice skating in Portland, for a weekend at the coast, for a road trip to La Grande for some friends' wedding, to Portland again for a business meeting in July, to the Enchanted Forest for his birthday, and finally to Seattle for our honeymoon! We're well-traveled up and down I-5 from Portland to the Hwy 34 intersection after this last year.

Apartment life hasn't changed much aside from the massive five-day clean-out I accomplished to make room for The Man as he moved in right before our wedding. Blogging sometimes took a backseat to wedding plans and living life, but I've tried to document everything I can. Crafting, likewise, along with Geocaching, photography, and writing poetry all took a backseat. You won't find much under those files for the last year.

Dancing has been a part of my life since the first year I was a blogger, but this year has seen a different kind of dancing. The Man and I have transitioned from social dancers to teachers. We've had four students in the past six months, and we're excited to help others find joy in ballroom dancing. We did a little dancing on a scant few occasions, plus we danced at our wedding reception, of course.

Family has changed a bit for me and us. My parents built a house this last year and moved in during the summer. I think they're finally settled, though the backyard is still in the works. My parents met The Man's parents for the first time in January. In October, we officially gained new sets of parents. My parents have a son, and his parents have a daughter, a first for both families. One big change for me is that Dad has finally let me cut his hair. As a little girl, I begged to have him let us put barrettes and ribbons in his hair, but that never happened. At least now I have clippers and can make him look as good or goofy as I want (always good).

I've ranted about weddings, traditions, drivers, cyclists, clothing and shopping, and grammar. I've shared favorite recipes. I even had a funny incident with a Waterpik I'll let you hunt down. But two very big things in my life changed this year, two things more important than everything above. I was baptized and received into full communion with the Catholic Church in June, and The Man and I exchanged marriage vows in October.

Religion has been a fascinating aspect to my life for over two years now. I owe a lot to my husband for his patience as he's held my hand through a trip to Mt. Angel Abbey, through trips to visit and talk to priests, and finally through a few sacraments. I've tried hard to be a good student and learn as much as I can about the church to which I now belong. I separated all of my religious posts into another blog for a while, but shortly after my baptism, I rolled both blogs together. I love being Catholic, love having history and some tradition to fall back on when I don't know what to say or do, and I am learning how to share my faith without smacking people with it. St. Francis has been a help with that part.

And then there were two. We became engaged on January 29th, and from that date to last month, we were in marriage planning mode every single day. We created registries, selected and crafted flowers, went through pre-Cana classes with a married couple, had our engagement photos taken, bought his ring, my dress, and a ton of other stuff, put together chocolate favor bags on the hottest day of the year (never again), went bed hunting, attended wedding showers thrown in our honor, and learned what it means to stick to a budget like never before. We experienced issues with the church double-booking reservations the day of our wedding. We fought over stupid things, rejoiced in absurd details, and remained loyal to each other the entire time. Our wedding was beautiful. Our honeymoon was fun. Now we're learning what it means to love, especially the unconditional kind, every single day. We're learning the give-give-give-and-take. We're learning not to hog the sheets.

Every year I review the last and wonder what on earth could be more exciting than the year I just lived. A year ago I was dating this guy, this person I thought I loved and sort of knew, and now I'm married to him. What will next year bring? I'm not sure, but I'm not afraid either. This time I'll have somebody at my side to fight the battles and celebrate the victories.

Life is grand.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Catholic Music Selections

I found a playlist of some of the songs I listen to and sing at Mass each week. The website is Spirit and Song, a division of Oregon Catholic Press. To hear the specific songs, go to the Music on Demand section and then under "Quick Links" to the left, under "Playlists" select "Choose Christ."

A few of the songs I really enjoy include:
Blessed Be Your Name
Breathe
Come to the Lord
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
God of Wonders
Here at This Table
Here I Am
Just Like You
One Bread, One Cup
Open the Eyes of my Heart
Our God is Here
Shout to the Lord
Sweet Redeemer
You Alone


One thing that might surprise people about this selection is that though it is contemporary, the songs are quite traditional and are mostly appropriate for either Catholics or Protestants. While I love the traditional hymns, sometimes its nice to sing something with a little range or a bass guitar floating in the background.

I'm excited to find the songs that have been stuck in my head week after week!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Name Changing Made Easy

Changing my name as been a bit of an ordeal. Some places need four kinds of ID, including pictures and proof of address, notarized documents and credit scores. Today, though, I called Comcast and Pacific Power. I told them my old name, told them my new last name, confirmed my address or birthdate, and poof, done.

Poof. Really. No proof of who I am or that I am who I say I am, just thank you, have a nice day.

It's like someone actually trusts me.

Just wait, they're going to charge me for this, aren't they?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Another Year Older

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, greetings, calls, e-mails, and Facebook messages and wall posts! My 26th birthday was yesterday, and I celebrated by not being at work in the afternoon. The Man and I went to the bank to sort out our checking accounts (again). We did a little wedding gift card shopping, though we didn't actually buy anything. We went to my parents' house for Mom's awesome spaghetti and some chocolately goodness for dessert. It was a nice day.

Tonight's plans include figuring out a way to organize The Man's desk, designing a charging station since we don't like any that we've seen in stores, and catching up on some TV. I'm kinda blah this evening, so if I get to the TV first and the rest doesn't happen, meh. Capital meh.

Thanks again for the birthday wishes!

Monday, November 02, 2009

In Which I Find my Checkbook

We turned the entire apartment upside down. We emptied every pocket of every bag we've touched in the last year. We even looked in the freezer. Where had the checkbook decided to hide? Let's just say my everyday bag has a hidden compartment even we didn't know about. I turned the bag upside down several times and shook it violently to dislodge every crumb and speck of dust. Timbuk2 bags are fantastic, and I dearly love mine, but that hidden pocket is a doozy. It's sort of like an un-pocket behind a series of pockets where skinny things can disappear. Call it the money stealer. Call it my three-day headache. Call it whatever you want, but the checkbook has been found. PHEW!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

We got stuff, and I lost stuff

After careful price shopping and comparing items, we took our largest gift cards out for a stroll today and got some much-wanted stuff as wedding gifts. I've dreamed of having a mandoline slicer since I moved out two years ago, but it was always "in next month's budget" or "maybe I'll wait for my birthday." We bought one. I can't wait to make homemade baked fries or julienne carrots for stir-fry or make potato slices all the same thickness.

We bought a bathroom scale (ho dear, maybe a bad idea); a Houdini wine bottle kit thingy that pretty much drinks the wine for you or something; some new kitchen towels in pretty, grown-up colors; Silpats; measuring cups that aren't stuck in a permanent ring so that when you use them you have to use all of them--ugh; new silicone spatulas and a wisk; and a grocery bag holder.

We're going to wait for the after-Christmas sales, or maybe even Black Friday sales to get a KitchenAid stand mixer because the one I originally wanted should be marked down quite a bit. Why get the classic when you can get the Artisan for the same price? Not that I really need the extra large motor, but nothing says baking like having cookie dough launched to the ceiling. ;)

After shopping for a while, having lunch, getting groceries, and contemplating the results of the bathroom scale, we opted to sit down and play some games. I mixed up some delicious fruit smoothies in The Man's "new" blender (it makes quick work of ice, yay!), and we played both Sorry! and Scrabble. I lost both games.

AND somehow, in the melee of a wedding, honeymoon, going umpteen different places to change my name, and packing/unpacking/returning gifts, I've managed to lose my checkbook. We called the resort in Seattle, and they don't have it. We've emptied every pocket of every bag, coat, and pants we took on our trip and found nothing. It's not in my desk, in The Man's desk, in the car, in the kitchen or bathroom, and it's not in the safe. Where would you look for a lost checkbook?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Post-Honeymoon Joys

I never did get the sickness The Man had thankfully. We've been very busy this past week writing our thank you notes. I was determined to have them done within two weeks of the wedding, and by working on them a little each day we succeeded in that goal. Some have been dropped off by hand, some are waiting to be mailed on Monday, and a few might take a while to deliver as we see friends (who can wait another week gosh darnit).

We're starting to settle into routines, though the question of what to have for dinner seems to be the most often routine we face. I'm adjusting to life with a roommate again... not the easiest task for someone who values personal space and a quiet environment. It's different. We have realized we have a few habits we don't like so much about each other--interesting sometimes!

We try to sit down every night and either watch a movie, play a game, or read together. A big part of our relationship from before we were even dating is doing something together often. We also have alone time every day, and I'm starting to figure out how to say I need to chill and just watch TV or surf the Internet for a while.

Today we celebrated my birthday a bit early and went to lunch with my parents and sister. We also made a few stops on the way home for things, so it was an adventure of sorts. I cut Dad's and The Man's hair (getting pretty good at that I must say), and now I'm on a price-shopping binge. We're trying to get good deals for stuff that we buy with our wedding money (and in general, of course, but especially for this stuff).

I guess things are sort of back to normal. Finally. I think.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Honeymoon, Day 4

Finally, a day that didn't dawn before dawn. I slept until my alarm went off at 7:30 (for once) and got up. I played with my camera taking pictures of the view outside our rooms as the sun came up through the cloud layers. The Man got up shortly after I did, and we dressed and packed all of our stuff. He got a luggage cart to haul our bags down to the lobby, and I checked us out while he walked two blocks to retrieve the car. We loaded up and were on the road out of Seattle by 9:00am. Once we got out of the city and traffic, we stopped at a freeway-side town where we ate at a Denny's. $20 for a breakfast that was surprisingly tasty. We were both stuffed to the brim in no time.

Around 10:30 we finally got into Tacoma where our first stop was the Washington State History Museum. I'm not sure what I expected, but having been to several history museums in Oregon (and many in other states), I was disappointed. Aside from a few good displays and two or three well-done exhibits, the rest of the museum was blah. A school group tore through the museum with no sense of courtesy or quiet, so the experience was not good for either The Man or me. We moved on to the Chihuly Bridge of Glass outside the museum by 1:00pm.

Talk about beautiful glass! The bridge can be broken down into two main parts: the covered part where viewers look up at the displays of glass above them, and the wall part where they can look at ornate vases and sculptures stacked in shelves. Between the two sections are two large glass towers that look like melting ice cubes (they looks better than I make it sound). I took dozens of pictures here!

We wandered into Union Station next to the museum where we encountered four more Chihuly exhibits. These four were much larger than anything on the bridge, and they were incredibly colorful. I'd love to have even one scrap piece of glass from any of the exhibits... beautiful, fantastic colors and shapes. The building architecture was neat, too, and we had fun exploring the many floors.

By 2:00pm, we were running out of time on our parking sticker and were getting homesick, so we decided to mosey down I-5. We took turns driving from one rest stop to the next, snacking and chatting or listening to music as we went. We crossed the Oregon border and hit Portland traffic around 4:30pm, though traffic only slowed a tiny bit once or twice. We made a few stops along the way, once to pick up a late wedding gift, once to buy some clothes at the Woodburn outlets, and once to stop and visit my parents really quick. We had to get milk and bread right before we got home, so at long last, around 9:00pm, we parked the car one last time.

We unpacked, sorted the laundry, showered, and pretty much dove into our own bed. Hooray for pillows that aren't flat!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Honeymoon, Day 3

Day 3 of our honeymoon dawned just as early as the previous two for me as I wasn't able to sleep very well in a strange bed. The bed itself wasn't bad, but wafer-thick pillows didn't make me happy. I shook The Man awake around 7:30am so that we could be dressed and ready for the day by 8:30am. We first walked two blocks to La Creperie Voila on Pike Street. The strawberry crepes we both ordered were phenomenal. Talk about sweet cream and perfect strawberries (well, almost perfect--they weren't from Lebanon). We gulped those down before getting our car from a nearby parking garage.

It was a twenty-minute drive through morning traffic to get to the Museum of Flight. The museum didn't open until 10am (sharp, and they mean sharp). We got our bracelets and headed over to the Boeing Red Barn where we were able to see the original production barn from Boeing Field. We saw how they built wooden frame planes, and we saw plenty of plane models. The videos were somewhat interactive (poking buttons keeps me entertained a nanosecond longer).

At 11:00am, the BIG plane exhibit opened, and The Man and I were among the first to board an original Air Force One jet (Eisenhower's) and a decommissioned Concorde jet. Both were interesting, Air Force One for it's importance and scope, and the Concorde for it's unique shape and size. We learned a bit on board both jets. The Concorde was so narrow up the middle aisle that my hips reached both armrests on either side of me, and I'm not terribly wide (size 8, give or take), so it must be interesting to fly Concorde and be large.

After the jets, we wandered through the WWII exhibit. The many planes looked splendid, and the neat interactive radios were fun. The displays of soldier's tools, stories, and lives were very well done. We were probably in this area for an hour before we headed into the main hangar. We cruised through the space exhibits and boarded a mock-up of the International Space Station's work bay. The Man tried out a computer simulation of a shuttle landing where he sailed through the easy landing and even safely landed the shuttle on the hardest setting. I was very impressed since I thoroughly crashed my simulation into smithereens.

We went to the observation tower at the Museum of Flight overlooking Boeing Field's runway. We were able to observe real air traffic controllers in the nearby tower as they worked, and we watched a Royal Australian Air Force plane take off. We were the only people in the observation tower when a distress call came in over the radio, a pilot asking to land at Boeing Field. We both looked at each other without saying anything. Before long, we could see emergency crews scrambling on the tarmac. A plane very much like the one we saw take off came into land safely. We're not sure if it was the exact same plane or a different one, but they looked very similar (and how many Australian planes visit Boeing Field?). Nobody was hurt, and the plane taxied to a protected area where crews checked out the plane. We left the tower.

The Man got his picture taken next to a Blue Angels plane before we headed back to the car. After four hours of being on our feet wandering around a museum of airplanes and spacecraft, seeing the emergency landing, and being very, very hungry, we wanted to sit down and eat. We went back to our rooms downtown where we rested for a bit before deciding to go to dinner.

I'm sorry, but The Cheesecake Factory doesn't seem all that it's cracked up to be. The Man had bow tie pasta with alfredo sauce, and I ordered a big salad. Neither were spectacular. We didn't even get any cheesecake since they only seemed to have elaborate cheesecakes. I don't really want to try mango-coffee-rutabaga cheesecake... I'd rather have a plain-jane slice of the good stuff. Plus it was expensive, and I'd already had an amazing piece at the Space Needle and didn't want to be disappointed.

We watched some TV and played a game (looooove Sequence!) before we zonked out. Another long day with too much walking!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Honeymoon, Day 2

The second day of our honeymoon arrived too early for me as I awoke around 6:00am. I finally woke my husband up around 8:00am, and we were dressed and ready for the day's adventure a half-hour later. Our first stop was a quick walk two blocks to Seattle's Best Bagel Company where we ordered breakfast. The Man had a ham, egg, and cheese toasted bagel sandwich, and I got two bagels, one plain with strawberry cream cheese, and one wheat with plain cream cheese. The bagels were tasty once I removed about two-thirds of the goop. Bellies full, we set out on a walk.

We first walked nine blocks (almost a mile) to Pike Place Market where we shopped and browsed and tried to take in all the sights for about an hour. We bought our one souvenir of the trip, an asian painting of the Space Needle and some foliage, from a vendor at the market. Then we hoofed it around and around looking for a credit union so that we could withdraw some cash without having to pay bank fees. Credit unions are elusive creatures in the big city, but after asking for directions once or twice, we did find one and make our transactions. The walk to find a credit union took us a half-hour and was probably another mile long.

One of the things we most wanted to do in Seattle was the Underground Tour. From the credit union, we walked at least a half-mile back to the waterfront and then another mile down to Pioneer Square where we found a nice pizzeria on a corner for lunch. The Underground Tour itself was an hour and a half long and likely included about a mile of walking. It started in a fake bar (perhaps it was a real pub at one time, but it was the exclusive starting point for the tour and didn't serve alcohol as far as I know). We got a quick lesson in Seattle's history and got an idea of what to expect underground. The tour broke into two groups that went in different directions. Our tour group leader was corny and made puns about everything, but the historical information seemed good and fairly reliable. We enjoyed the trip and the museum at the end of the tour.

After the tour, we walked the mile back to Pike Place Market and the nine blocks back to our rooms. To say that our feet hurt would not even come close. Even with comfortable shoes, six miles in six hours on concrete with very little time to sit down would have tired most people out. We were a bit cranky. We needed food and water. Dinner at P.F. Chang's ($40 and not too bad!) and some TV before crashing into our pillows. Exhausted.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honeymoon, Day 1 (part 2)

To get to the Space Needle from downtown, we walked about three blocks to the Westlake Monorail Station. $4 each bought us round-trip tickets on a monorail the likes of which Disney has never seen. It actually seemed more like a noisy MAX line without all the stops, just get on at one end and get off at the other. Not scary at all, and I even rode in the very front seat looking straight down at the sidewalk three stories below me. Yeah. It was an adventurous night.

I should mention two very important things right now: I'm terrified of heights, and I typically don't like fancy food. We walked the entire circumference of the Space Needle on the outside deck, and I even looked down at the ground without holding on to the wires or frame. I looked outside the whole time going up the glass elevator. I ate most of my dinner and didn't complain.

After the ten or fifteen minute ride, we walked the half-block to the Space Needle. We wandered into the gift shop where we waited a few moments for an elevator to take us to the observation deck to wait some more before our reservation time at 8:00pm. I took a few time-lapse photographs of the Seattle city lights at night that turned out pretty well. Our half-hour wait was well-spent staring into blackness as we couldn't really see much in the dark.

Once we walked a flight down into the SkyCity Restaurant, we waited only a moment before being escorted into the rotating dining room and to our window-side table. Our menu included a chardonnay for The Man and a hazlenut cream soda for me, an appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped artisan cheese, entrees of jidori chicken and baby vegetables over potato gnocchi, and a sorbet sampler for The Man and cheesecake for me. His drink was incredible while mine was a total flop (went down smooth, but the aftertaste was like burning cotton in my mouth). The appetizer had us both dreaming of prosciutto for a week it was so good. The chicken was weird, the veggies kinda blah, and the gnocchi pretty good. Both the sorbets and the cheesecake were among the highlights of our entire trip (best cheesecake I've ever had, and I am a connesieur).

Our waiter was pretty good. We asked him for recommendations on other local places to eat and visit, but he apparently doesn't get out much. He'd disappear and then, a few moments later, reappear with a brochure or an idea that we politely accepted. He tried, and we really appreciated that.

How much does it cost to eat at SkyCity? After tax and tip, we gagged up spent $140. It was by far the most expensive dinner either of us had ever eaten, but this was our honeymoon and likely the only time in our lives we were going to do something so lavish. Kind of makes our first date at Strega and the $50 dinner seem like nothing (miss that place though!). We probably wouldn't eat at the Space Needle again, but it was a great one-time experience. We're glad the elevator ride up was free since we had a reservation. A short walk and a monorail ride home left us both exhausted. The Man put on a movie that I don't think I was awake beyond the opening credits. Thus came to a close the first day of our honeymoon.

Tomorrow: Pike Place Market and some serious walking in Day 2

Monday, October 26, 2009

Honeymoon, Day 1

As part of our family tradition, I kept a journal of the trip The Man and I recently went on to Seattle. I have a journal of every trip I've been on since I could write, and my family has trip journals dating back to my great grandmother and her fine pencil lines inside a little tan notebook. I'd get up each morning of our trip very early, once as early as 6:00am when I had the quiet all to myself. You see, it's not so much that I'm an early bird as that I love the stillness and light of the morning, especially for deep thinking. ANYHOO! On to the journal!

~*~*~*~*~*~

October 19, 2009: Honeymoon trip from Corvallis, Ore., to Seattle, Wa.
After running errands to the local courthouse, the bank, and a couple other places, we officially began our trip at about 10:00am. We drove up I-5 to Portland without any trouble, only some fog and a few light sprinkles between Salem and Wilsonville. I drove this leg of our trip.

Our first destination was the Blueplate Lunch Counter in downtown Portland. We'd heard about the restaurant on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. We parked nearby in a small public parking lot where you park and then have to leave your keys with the attendant (not our favorite). For lunch, we both ordered grilled cheese and tomato soup; Kevin ordered a Little Ricky and I had a strawberry Italian soda. Though the soup was okay--it had real tomato chunks and onion slices in it which neither of us enjoy--and the sandwiches and sodas were awesome! We paid $16 for lunch, $2 tip, and $4 for one hour of parking.

Next, at my pleading, we broke off our path to drive over to the Portland archdiocese cathedral, the head Catholic Church for our area. All of the doors were locked, and the lunchhour had just started, so we didn't figure anyone would be around, but a few knocks on the parish office door brought around a nice fellow who kindly let us in and told us to let ourselves out. I began taking pictures like a crazy woman, snap-snap-snapping as often as I blinked. While in front of the main altar, a custodian appeared and flipped on all of the lights for us. We were all alone in the cathedral with the lights on! He told us we could go behind the ropes and up into the organ/choir loft if we wanted, and he gave a few pointers for pictures that he thought people always missed (he was totally right). I hope he doesn't get in trouble by me writing about him because we really appreciated the welcoming atmosphere. Beautiful, amazing, awesome place!

From there, we hustled back to I-5. We crossed the Columbia just before 1:00pm. The Man drove this leg of the trip to the second rest stop as we traveled north into Washington. I'd remembered from past journeys that Washington has nice rest areas. The one we stopped at was indeed nice. I'm not talking heated toilet seats or anything, but the rest areas were clean and well-maintained, often with free hot coffee or cookies from local church groups, and we took advantage of some hot chocolate at this first stop. The hot chocolate was some of the best I've ever had: perfect sweetness, perfect temperature, and perfect weather for a hot sip or eighty.

I drove to the next (not quite as nice) rest stop, the third one as we headed north about another half-hour. We hit intermittent road work and more orange traffic cones than I've ever seen: they were a constant orange ribbon on our right side for probably twenty miles. Washington needs to redistribute them or something... The Boy drove the last leg of our long car ride into Seattle. Traffic was dense but moved well. We arrived at The Camlin right at 4:00pm and checked in. After snacks, showers, and exploring the resort, we set out for the Space Needle at 7:00pm.

Stay tuned for the next part of the trip tomorrow!